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During this period of global public health-sanctioned isolation, Millennium Film Workshop, like many other organizations has sadly had to postpone many of our planned events for the Spring season. We’ve decided to continue to showcase in the meantime, great work from great artists here on our own website, in a new weekly series we’re calling “Isolated Experiments,” accompanied by comments from the artists themselves. Sign up for our mailing list via our contact page to get email updates about new films as we post them weekly.

“People Who Live in Glass Houses” from Joe Wakeman on Vimeo.

This week, we are featuring “People Who Live in Glass Houses“ a five minute video piece made by artist Joe Wakeman.

MFW: So, Franny & Zooey? 

JW: This short was a bit of an impromptu reunion jam–Eliza Diamond is a great actress who I worked with in my first feature They Read By Night and far beyond that one of the dearest friends, but she left for warmer climes (New Orleans a few years ago), but was in town in NY for a visit at the end of December and we decided to make a quick movie happen–She told me she wanted to do Franny & Zooey, by JD Salinger, which I hadn’t read since I was in high school but I said I’d have a go at writing a short dialogue based on everything I could remember about it (which turned out not to be much, but enough for a four minute movie). I wrote the script in my journal on the subway on the way to go shoot it.

MFW: That sounds very loose! Do you tend to work that way?

JW: I do! I like to improvise and do things haphazardly. I’m really interested in working with artists as actors who don’t really act, and in non-acting, bring more of their personal peculiarities to fill in the gaps in characterization. Sometimes this can happen naturally when you have the right collaborators and not much time to prepare. It leaves also a lot of room for chance happenings, like for example, the pamphlet about the anti-government protest was something someone handed me in a subway station while I was writing the adaptation, so it ended up in the script.

MFW: That moment kind of takes you out of the story.

JW: I can never really help but keep one foot on land. In a sense that’s what’s kind of happening with Franny, meditating about monks in the bath, willfully ignoring the sounds of disaster and noise outside. She’s very good at social distancing though, and it’s funny, now theres people protesting, toting guns in the state capitals that would be terrible people to be associated with. Theres still a lot to be legitimately protested against but also the ones using their heads aren’t going outside, so we’re in a sticky situation.

MFW: So are you just locked in the bathroom, tuning it out?

JW: I can’t tune it out, not really. Theres enough noise from sirens outside. But I’m keeping busy. Right before all this happened we shot another film in Louisiana with Eliza Diamond and my partner, artist Holly Overton; titled Sisters of the Swampland, and that’s almost done. And I’m always making more.

Joe Wakeman is an American video artist. With Millennium Film Workshop, he led the 2019 workshop class ‘Cinestesia: A Workshop in Performance Video Art. and has curated films for ‘Isolated Experiments’ and our new collaboration with Spectacle Theater, ‘Means of Production: New Artists’ Cinema,’ live streaming on May 6th at 7 PM.

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